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Michael Martin Murphey

Cowboy Classics: Playing Favorites II – 2002 (Real West)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Michael Martin Murphey

Michael Martin Murphey's love for the west and its songs is obvious. He's picked a wide selection of traditional western songs for this collection. The glory years of the old West were between the Civil War and Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, and these songs all hail from that period. Their roots, though, are typically earlier because their melodies were often based on Celtic and Scottish (and other) melodies passed down from one generation to the next.

The songs vary from the soulful ("I Ride An Old Paint" and "Red River Valley") to the lively "Tying Knots in the Devil's Tail." Some of the best remembered ballads of the West are reflective. The Sons of the Pioneers classics come to mind as does "The Streets of Laredo," included here. While Murphey's arrangements have a western flavor, including harmonica and accordion, they have more of a country sound than the Sons of the Pioneers' work.

One of the delights here are the liner notes, tracing the origins of the songs and providing information most won't know. The music isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy those songs this is a very appealing release. Murphey's an excellent singer, born to the West and doing something he loves and doing it well.